Monday, November 21, 2011

Online Applications for the Third Year in a Row

After years of complaining about it, I'm finally sold on the online application process. Maybe it's just that I'm getting used to it, but it was not at all terrible this year. Easily three fourths of my applications this year were online, so it might also have just been that I was in "online application" mode from the start. It's still pretty obnoxious how you have to fill out the same contact info/references data in every application, but this year my autofill did a better job of filling out the forms for me, so it wasn't as much of a hassle.

Another nice thing about online apps is this: when I prepare paper applications, I am very bad about knowing how many of each document I will need and I always end up having to print out one or two more of a bunch of documents at the last minute. Obviously CVs and writing samples are easy, since everybody wants those, but I never print out enough research statements or syllabuses for business ethics. Online applications make this a non-issue.

Also, online applications are much, much cheaper. Way cheaper. Vastly cheaper.

And it seems like people are getting better about having "upload" slots for each required document. I only had one unexpected occasion to go into Adobe and make a combination PDF of several required documents.

It's also nice not to have to wait around for all the photocopies to copy. Making 30 or 40 copies of your writing sample is time-consuming and annoying. And I always do my copying in the evenings so I don't tie up the copier during the day, so it was nice not having to do very much of that.

But if I may make a suggestion, please put the application process all online or all offline. No more of this "submit these three documents electronically and then these four documents in hard copy" bullshit. That's the worst. Pick one.

--Mr. Zero

220 comments:

1 – 200 of 220   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Nothing beats application by email attachment. Except those places that want everything in a single file. Dude, if I knew how to do that, I wouldn't be a philosopher.

Mr. Zero said...

Adobe Acrobat Pro has a function that does that. I don't know how you'd do it with any free or inexpensive software, though. Hopefully you have access to an institutional license.

Anonymous said...

For Preview on Snow Leopard: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4075

Search for something similar for Leopard or Lion.

Richard said...

pdftk is a free command-line tool. Merge command example here.

Anonymous said...

Uh...what happened to cutting and pasting your word files into one file and then converting it? Perhaps not as efficient, but it works.

YFNA

Mr. Zero said...

I have a bunch of student evaluation PDFs that I made by scanning the hardcopies. Copy & pasting those into a Word file wouldn't work at all, even after running text-recognition on them.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who loves online submission because it doesn't cost me $20 to apply for a job I almost certainly will not get, and likely will not get an interview for?

I think asking for submission by mail is borderline unethical given the financial situations of many graduate students. There is no reason it should cost hundreds of dollars to apply for jobs when there is technology that could make it free.

Anonymous said...

This may be a stupid question. But what do you do about cover letters in an online application?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:21,

Most online applications have a space to upload a cover letter. I suppose that if you came across one that didn't, you could always attach one to the front of your CV. That will be the first document anyone looks at anyway.

Anonymous said...

The first 'online' application I ever did (that did only email attachments) requested that one of the attachments simply be a file named, "Cover Letter." So I did this for every subsequent email-only job.

Anonymous said...

Y'all should try:

http://foxyutils.com/mergepdf/

You just temporarily upload your pdfs and it turns them into one file. Fantastic, no downloads, and free.

There is also a splitpdf link there which I have used to chunk off chapters of books I own electronically to use as readings for courses.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the online apps seem less painful this year. But I wish all departments would accept them through academicjobsonline.org. That way you only have to upload your files once, making it really easy to apply for multiple positions. And as far as I can tell, departments still have complete freedom as far as specifying the kinds of documents they want. Also, some departments still haven't figured out that if they ask for copies of your teaching evals or transcripts, then they need to allow for uploads larger than 2 MB.

Anonymous said...

So my CV includes a list of references and a dissertation abstract. How bad is it for schools that ask for CV, list of references, and dissertation abstract that I just upload the same document for all three?

Mary said...

I am a newbie on the market this year. This blog is so helpful. At first, I found the online application process frustrating, but quickly adapted. It is a lot cheaper than mailing the dossier yourself or Interfolio.

I was wondering about how long it takes for turn around time (i.e. how long it takes for departments to let you know whether or not they want to interview). I've perused some of the older posts and know that some departments don't contact you at all, but what about the ones who do? Is it around the first week of December? Thanks so much for your help.

Anonymous said...

As someone who is currently in a third world country a long way from the U.S., online applications are absolutely brilliant. It's a lot easier to find an internet connection that will work for the time it time it takes to upload the applications than it is to find a copier, printer, etc., not to mention the time, hassle, and cost of delivery by snail.

Anonymous said...

@Mary: If the news from a department is bad, you're not likely to hear it in the first week of December. Most departments won't have finished reading dossiers that soon. (APA interview invitations can come as late as the week before Christmas.) Those schools that do make interview decisions early will often hold off sending out rejection letters until they are farther along in their process or until they have made a hire.

Generally, when you receive a letter saying that you aren't getting an interview, it's late enough in the process that you'd already figured that out.

@8:36: How substantial is the dissertation abstract in your CV? Is it a one paragraph summary, or is it more like a page? Search committees that ask for an abstract are generally looking for a page-length document.

I think it's polite to provide separate documents if the committee asked for separate documents, but I don't know how many SC members will care, as long as you provide the material they want.

Anonymous said...

I think most jobs that interview at the APA schedule their interviews around the middle of December. They might go into the third week of December. It's very unlikely that you'll hear from anyone about an APA interview later than Dec 22, but it's been known to happen (I think I was called on Dec 21 or Dec 22 for one interview, and that was regarded as very late in the game).

But keep in mind that some places will interview either by Skype in January or at the Central APA, and you might not hear about those until after the new year begins.

Anonymous said...

The one thing that bothers me most about online applications is particular to certain jobs using certain software. That software requires unique email addresses for each letter-writer, which makes it impossible for my department to submit the letters. They pay someone to do exactly that, and she can't do it if they need them listed separately but need a separate email address for each one.

Anonymous said...

Mary: If past years are any indication, I'd say most interview invitations happen in between Thanksgiving and December 15 or so.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else noticed how interfolio actually charges *more* to upload letters of reference online than to mail them or email them? You have to pay $6 for the first, and $1 for each additional letter. Errr . . .

And the email price is now equal to the basic mailing price.

Either their profit margins must be pretty sweet or . . . I don't know what.

Anonymous said...

Mary,

Based on the pattern of activity on the job wiki over the last several years, many departments contact people for interviews during the first two to three weeks of December. Few departments, if any, contact people before early December. I'd say that December 5–10 seems to be the busiest time. Some departments don't do APA interviews. These departments might contact people in January. I was contacted for an interview for my current job in the first week of January.

That said, I get the impression that more departments are doing Skype interviews this year, which eliminates the pressure to make decisions before the APA. Also, induction is unjustified. So the previous pattern might not hold.

Does that square with others' experience? (Not the bit about induction being unjustified. The other bit.)

Anonymous said...

Another point about the online applications. Google Chrome is smart enough to auto-complete the entire biographical section of most of these forms, because the forms are all alike. That makes them really fast for me, and not appreciably different in time to complete from the slightly better situation we would have if the information was all carried over for us.

zombie said...

Mary -- the requests for interviews typically happen around the second week of December or so. They really do let it go until the last minute, which is a huge hassle for job applicants who only go to APA if they have interviews there. I've had interview requests come as late as two or three days before APA. Nothing like having to completely change your plans at the holidays.

Some depts forgo the APA interview, and they might contact you at any point for either a phone interview or flyout. The PFOs tend to start trickling in in the spring, if you get them at all. Many depts send nothing until they've made the hire, so it can be May/June before you get some of those. By then, of course, you already know.

Anonymous said...

As long as we're here. For the last two years I've wondered what PFO stands for. I get that its the rejection letter but what's the acronym about?

I'm hoping for a sexy back story.

Mary said...

Thanks for all the useful information. This side of the hiring process (being the applicant) is daunting at times. Reading this blog makes me realize that I'm not alone, I can try again next year, and the world is probably not going to end if I don't get a TT job. Good luck to anyone on the market reading this!

Anonymous said...

Do depts usually contact you by phone or email when requesting first round interviews? As a non-US resident who is traveling for the holidays, the phone number I listed won't work after 15 Dec.

Anonymous said...

I was THRILLED that some of the ads asked for a single PDF file to be uploaded. I bought a copy of Acrobat Pro on the cheap (big student discount, think circa 10 dollars for the damn thing) while I was an undergrad, and that's the investment that never stops paying off.

Anonymous said...

Mary- I didn't receive an APA interview request until December 17th. After that, I received 8 more. So my advice is: don't freak out if by mid-December you haven't heard. You still may get interviews!!

Anonymous said...

"I think asking for submission by mail is borderline unethical given the financial situations of many graduate students."

I don't understand why graduate programs don't pick up this cost. Those programs hve a significant interest in helping place their students, and picking up the cost for applications would be incredibly helpful. Departments have access to all the physical materials, as well as a special postage rate for outgoing mail.

Does anyone know of a program that provides the materials and picks up the costs? Because mine sure as hell didn't.

Anonymous said...

http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/

You can print a single file to pdf or print a bunch to the writer and then have it create a single pdf. It shows up in your printer list.

Anonymous said...

Just got my first PFO of the season! (That's 'Please F--- Off', 8:52).

I'm posting it here in its entirety because it's so delicate that it doesn't _quite_ get across the information it was apparently meant to:

"We genuinely appreciate your decision to apply for the tenure-track position at Lycoming College. However, we received an extremely large number of highly qualified applicants and we had to exclude some of them. Please do not take our decision not to include you in the group to be interviewed by us in Washington as any sort of judgment on your merits as a teacher or scholar. Quite the contrary. We were impressed by the credentials of everyone who applied.

With all best wishes,

John Whelan"

Death, where is thy sting?

RexII said...

phone or email

Most of mine came via email -- about 18 out of 20-ish over a course of 5 years. My interviews were mainly with regional state U's and a couple of SLAC's.

Anonymous said...

PFO = Please Fuck Off.

Anonymous said...

For the last two years I've wondered what PFO stands for.

PFO = Please Fuck Off.

Anonymous said...

@Anon Nov 22, 711p

Can your department rep use gmail? You can add an argument after your username with a plus sign, which should fool such idiotic systems. I use this feature mainly for filtering, but it seems perfect for this use.

So for example if your address is xyz@gmail.com, email sent to xyz+candidate1@gmail.com, xyz+yourmom@gmail.com, etc., all go to your inbox. I guess some online forms might balk at the plus sign but this has only happened to me once signing up for services.

Anonymous said...

@3:26 AM: First-round interview invitations can come either by phone or by email. Do you have voice mail or an answering machine? Can you arrange to check your messages regularly while you're away?

Anonymous said...

I'm 3:26.

I can't check my messages while I'm away without incurring serious costs. So I guess it's either that, or I contact every dept I applied to and give them my new mid-December phone number. That seems extreme. If a dept can't get ahold of me via phone, why wouldn't they just sent an email? (I'm hoping they will.)

Anonymous said...

8:48am: when I was at UNC-CHapel Hill (quite a few years ago now) they put together our dossiers and paid all mailing costs. All we needed to was provide the materials. They provided this service for 2 years on the job market. After that, you are on your on own. It was an invaluable service.

zombie said...

Two years ago, my interview requests came via phone calls. Last year, I think all my interview notifications came by email. The emails came on December 13,16,17, and 29.

Anon 3:26 -- in any future apps you send out, your cover letter should include info about how to reach you during the dates you'll be traveling. While you're traveling, leave a phone recording telling callers how to reach you. And hope for emails. (Yes, they will try to reach you via email rather than scratch you off the list.)

Anonymous said...

This is completely off-topic, but I need to clarify this. I just realized that the reference letter of one of the members of my committee is just one page long. I know this because Interfolio tells users the length of the letter, although of course the content remains strictly confidential. Could this hurt my chances of getting the job? Are shorter letters an indication that I am a weak candidate? Maybe I should not send this letter at all, and use the other ones only. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

November 23, 2011 5:08 PM

Try Google voice.

DR said...

9:50am: As has been mentioned before, each search committee is different, and so is each member of each search committee. But for what it's worth, I don't think one short letter will hurt you. Short letters suggest either that the letter writer is lazy or that she couldn't think of much to say about you that was good. So if all your letters are short, that's bad. But if you have a bunch of normal length ones and one short one, I imagine most SC members will take its length to say more about the writer than it does about you.

Anonymous said...

3:26/5:09:

Could you change your outgoing voicemail message while you're away to say something like, "You've reached An Extremely Eager Job Candidate. I am traveling from December 15 through December 26 with limited access to this voice mailbox. If you need to contact me before then, please do so by email." And then you could give your email address or not, depending on whether you want people who don't know you to be able to get your email address.

DR (and everyone else),

Out of curiosity, what is a "normal length" for a letter of recommendation?

Anonymous said...

I guess this is a few days outdated, but when I was on the market I found this piece of freeware helpful:

http://www.pdfill.com/pdf_tools_free.html

Its a downloadable freeware application (PDFill PDF Tools Free). It has simple buttons for things like merging pdf files and splitting or reordering the pages in a pdf.

If it makes some smoker's life a little easier then I'll be happy.

zombie said...

9:50 -- I wondered the same thing last year, because one of my letters was shorter than the others. But it was also the case that I could not get that person to write me an updated letter for the season (something my other writers were willing to do). He said he would, but never got around to it. So, I generally didn't send that letter, since I had four other letters to send. (OTOH, a long letter could just be someone going on at length about how terrible you are...)

My grad school did not offer letter screening, which is something I hear some schools do for their students. I considered sending the letters from Interfolio to someone I knew who could give them to me, but I never could convince myself that it would be ethical to do that.

DR said...

8:04am: off the top of my head I'd say about one and a half pages is the most common length. Some are several pages long, but usually because they go into detail on the argument of the person's dissertation.

Anonymous said...

My impression is that most departments pay for photocopying and mailing but that you have to make the copies and put the applications together yourself. This, of course, requires being in town. That's how it works at my department, and I thought schools doing it differently were outliers, most departments neither doing all the work nor making students pay for copying and mailing. I may be wrong about that, though.

RexII said...

My grad school did not offer letter screening

One of my professors gave me a copy of the letter she wrote for me. I did not request this, of course. I just found it in my department mailbox one day. This letter offered very strong support for my application. (BTW, it was only one-page long, single-spaced.)

My dissertation director forwarded to me the part of his letter that described (not evaluated) my dissertation. He thought it might be helpful in interviews if I knew how he was talking about my project with others. (We were pretty much on the same page.)

I asked my director if it would be appropriate for him to read my other letters, on the off chance that someone said something odd. He told me then that he'd already looked at my letters, and that I had nothing to worry about. (That's it. That's all he said, and I was satisfied.)

I don't know if other dissertation directors did the same at my school.

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that most departments were transitioning to something like Interfolio. It's a different question whether departments pay for or subsidize Interfolio costs but I thought they had/were becoming the standard.

Jason said...

Off topic, but I was wondering if anyone has any info or would care to speculate on what percentage of job openings aren't "real" openings (i.e. they SC is required to list the job app, but they already know who they're going to hire).

I've heard that post-docs are a cesspool of nepotism in this regard; and moreover, of the two jobs in this year's JFP that I have inside info on (but which I'm not applying for), it's been made clear that the search is a foregone conclusion.

That's very disconcerting frankly. I hope it's just coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Jason,

What is the sort of nepotism you're talking about for postdocs? The department wants to keep its postdocs for TT positions, or it's a foregone conclusion who gets the postdocs in the first place? Thanks.

WV: quarp

Jason said...

From what I've heard from multiple people, many post-docs have an "arraignment" of one sort or another; either in terms of good old boys student trading, or programs hiring their own, or swapping between "friendly" programs, etc, etc.

I'm not saying that it's some particular type of corruption, just the kind that is common in TT jobs, but supposedly even more common in post-docs.

But I'm not sure if that's really the case. I've heard as much from others, and, as mentioned, the jobs that I do have inside info on are not really "open," so I'm more just wondering if my episteme is biased, or informative.

That said, post-docs often ask for a lot of specific custom stuff (proposals, specific syllabi, etc.) that's time consuming to type up, so it's really evil if they're indeed as nepotistic as I've been led to believe.

Anonymous said...

What? They have an 'arraignment' (in scare quotes)?

As in, they formally charge someone with a crime, but not really?

Anonymous said...

"I was wondering if anyone has any info or would care to speculate on what percentage of job openings aren't "real" openings"

100%, if you're not the one who gets the job.

Anonymous said...

"...and moreover, of the two jobs in this year's JFP that I have inside info on (but which I'm not applying for), it's been made clear that the search is a foregone conclusion."

Jason: Could you please say what jobs these are? Interested smokers want to know. I'm sure your real name is not Jason and that exposing these schools poses zero risk to you. So please, just tell us.

Anonymous said...

of the two jobs in this year's JFP that I have inside info on (but which I'm not applying for), it's been made clear that the search is a foregone conclusion.

if you're going to sling mud, sling that mud damn hard. name the jobs.

Anonymous said...

I'd take anything Jason says with a grain of salt. There's no way any faculty member or serious job seeker will not know the difference between 'arrangement' and 'arraignment', not know what scare quotes are used for, and would refer to his/her source of knowledge as an 'episteme' (unless the person were doing continental or feminist philosophy, in which case my caveat still applies).

Jason said...

To those mocking my spelling: I have dyslexia and often jumble words that sound alike, especially when rushed. Regardless, making fun of spelling errors in Internet blog comments is about the lamest form of pedantry there is.

Also, the "scare quotes" weren't "scare quotes," they were actual quotes. That's the word used by the faculty member who told me about the nepotism problem in post-docs.

As for the request for info, I'd be willing, but not on here as I am, in fact, posting under my real name, and one of the institutions is where I'm at now (they’re promoting a current adjunct to TT). If it's any consolation, you wouldn't want to work here anyway, so don’t worry about it.

P.S. I probably misplaced a comma in the above. I apologize in advance for offending the English language and the refined sensitivities of this blog’s readers.

Anonymous said...

Sounds very, very suspicious, Jason. All of it.

Jason said...

Well I'd hate to seem "suspicious" to someone who posts anonymously.

Post your gmail account (or whatever) and I'll email you the names of the schools...just please don't post them right back on here, m'kay?

Cardinal Monday said...

I'm just grading my way through a stack of freshman papers, and many of them awkwardly use 'multiple' when they should say 'many'. One doesn't tend to see that in academic writing.

And yet, here we have Jason telling us that he's heard from 'multiple people' that postdoc competitions are rigged.

Why would he happen to use the same word that those dimly familiar with college writing use? Strange, eh?

Anonymous said...

OK, Jason. I'm at: weatheredheights@gmail.com

Jason said...

I never said "rigged," now did I?

The middling and hyper (or should I use the Latinate "super" to be fully proper?) defensiveness of some people on here is amusing.

My only intention was to relate something I had heard, but was not sure if it was true. If it's not then wonderful!

However, the fact that you react with such vitriol concerning my word choice, while studiously avoiding my question, doesn't exactly put my mind at ease.

Perhaps you're the beneficiary of some such form of nepotism; and thus defending your own sweet-deal by casting petty aspersions.

Craig Roth said...

Wow, Jason. You are positively full of shit.

zombie said...

Hey Jason, FWIW, I personally know of no cases of nepotism in postdocs. But my knowledge is far from comprehensive. It would not surprise me at all if the most prestigious postdocs went to grads from the most prestigious depts, a form of favoritism comparable to that practiced in TT hiring. It would not surprise me at all if, e.g., Stanford gave preference to their own grads in making postdoc appointments -- after all, who would they know better than their own grads? It wouldn't surprise me, but I have no actual knowledge of this happening (other than what I can glean from looking at their online lists of postdocs)

I held a postdoc position, and my appointment was in no way that I can fathom remotely nepotistic. But that is but one piece of anecdotal information.

I do know this: my postdoc helped me a lot in the job market, both because it gave me time to devote to getting published, and because the postdoc itself was considered valuable experience. If postdocs are rigged in the same way many people suspect TT hiring is rigged, then that's really unfortunate, because postdocs can give a less prestigious candidate (such as myself) a leg up. That said, I would advise everyone on the job market to apply for postdocs, and to think about a postdoc-ready research agenda. (If nothing else, it will give you an interesting research plan to talk about at your interviews)

Jason said...

Craig,

As I’m sure Cardinal Monday will agree, your use of the word "positively" is sophomoric and redundant. However, you do get kudos for using "You are" instead of the plebeian "you're."

Zombie,

Many thanks for the response and encouragement. Concerning issues such as this, all anyone seems to possess is anecdotal information. Nonetheless, I am glad that the problem is not as severe as I've been led to believe. The job search is soul-sapping enough as is without such suspicions hanging over it.

Cardinal Monday said...

Jason,

It's common knowledge, at least among those with extensive college writing experience, that there's a world of difference between informal writing and grammatically incorrect writing.

The point that I was making (as well as Craig and others, it seems) was that you don't appear to be who you claim to be. Far be it from me to ridicule those who truly have dyslexia; but someone with that condition would still know, _if_ he or she were a PhD student, that criticism of grammar has nothing to do with criticism of informality.

Given that you don't know that, and that you incorrectly identify an intensifier as redundant (which, again, is not a mistake that could be explained by your having dyslexia), I repeat my suggestion that you are not who you claim to be.

I hope this gets posted, since it is of the interest of this blog's readers to see the evidence for or against your claims being genuine.

Jason said...

Cardinal,

Your “Sherlock Holmes, Private Grammarian" act is hilarious. For my own part, I doubt you are even a Cardinal!

Anyway, my comment was a joke regarding the relation of "positively" and "full of."

I suppose I should not have bothered, as you seem to lack anything approaching a sense of humor, and apparently compensate with overweening pedantry.

Richard Feynman once remarked that he enjoyed conversing with academics from every department except philosophy. I used to be rather hurt by this comment, but now I realize that he was talking about people like you.

Anonymous said...

Cardinal Monday, wow, I see nothing in Jason's post/writing style to warrant such a thoroughgoing attack. Chill out, matey.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cardinal Monday,

I know you hate empiricism, so you'll probably hate this too. But you should see this category on Language Log... http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?cat=5

(Notice how I began the last sentence with "but"!)

Anonymous said...

Jason,

My own personal theory for why some philosophers behave like asses is that they were the ones getting sand kicked in their face in the playground and now they have to make up for it by making others feel small over rather trivial things. These people also seem to lack the capacity to understand the spirit of a post. These are the philosophers who are doomed to fail to see the forest for the trees and are therefore doomed never to make a truly creative and interesting contribution to anything. All of us who are not such philosophers hope that they will soon be able to replaced with some fancy computers.

YFNA

Anonymous said...

Hey Jason - would one of the schools be skidmore by any chance?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Feynman was referring to the tendency philosophers have of pursuing lines of investigation that are not fruitful. For example sometimes philosophers try to figure out the real identity of attention seekers on blogs.

Also they have a tendency to make appeals to intellectual authority that have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

(P.S. I meant to be making fun of the Feynman reference.)

Anonymous said...

YFNA, well said. Bravo!

Cardinal Monday said...

Anon 10:09, I already refuted the silly claim that I'm not interested in evidence. If you had bothered to read my response, you would know that. Joke's over.

Anon 3:00 and Jason, your responses seem to incriminate you much more than me. I was merely pointing out -- and others seemed to agree -- that the manner of Jason's comment raised doubts as to its veracity.

In responding to that as you did, by engaging in character assassination, you are _at best_ no better than what you claim I am.

Unless, that is, all of you are identical with Jason.

Anonymous said...

I'm lost. What's wrong with what Cardinal Monday said? It wasn't pedantic at all: it was informative. I had exactly the same reaction when reading Jason's post. I smell a troll.

Mr. Zero said...

I'm not saying we can't discuss rumors about which searches are not on the level. But I'm not going to publish evidence-free reports of various rumors that various searches are rigged. If you want to report that search x is rigged, you have to explain what, specifically, makes you think it's rigged. The fact that anonymous says there's a rumor is of no evidential value whatsoever.

Mr. Zero said...

Also, discussions about who is or is not a graduate student or holds a Ph.D or whatever, or who is or is not a sockpuppet, are useless. There's no way to confirm or deny blah blah blah, so let's not bother with it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Zero,

If you're not going to publish specific mud-slinging, then why publish generic mud-slinging in the first place?

Dear Cardinal Monday,

If you clicked on the link, you'd see I make no claims about being interested in evidence. However, some people do seem more interested in describing the way the world works rather than prescribing the way the world works.

Mr. Zero said...

I didn't say I wouldn't publish specific mud-slinging. I said I wouldn't publish it unless it is accompanied by some corroborating evidence.

Cardinal Monday said...

9:41, I clicked on the link. The relevance is not apparent. Also, you said "I know you hate empiricism", which was obviously a reference to the stupid charge made against me in the other thread. Hence, my comment.

As for description vs. prescription, I certainly agree that describing the world has its uses. But some of us are concerned with things like ethics and grammar, both of which are prescriptive.

Dr. Killjoy said...

I found two cents in the crack of my couch and thought I ought to share the wealth:

Jason: Obviously something is well rotten with your whole schtick. Just stop pretending to be something you Argonaut! There is no shame is being open and honest about who you are; there are plenty of doofs, dunderheads, and raging gits who lead happy and productive lives.

Cardinal Monday: You come across like a mean, smug, and basically unlikable little dilettante, and I gots me a sneakin' suspicion that your little exchange with Jason and the Rumourettes is quite likely the closest you've come to a printed & publicly available philosophical success. Plus, I fucking hate Mondays.

Although times are rough, gang, that is no excuse to turn every little dispute into an all-out orgy of blood and bile, especially when those reasonable among us can easily agree on two key points:

1) Jason's jive-shuffle, step-ball-change is clearly playing way off-off-off Broadway.

2) Cardinal Monday's face needs to be put in a direct bijection with my boot.

Jason said...

Zero,

I understand that this is a touchy issue, so I apologize for bringing it up. It was just something that I had heard from other people and had a small bit of evidence of first-hand; so I was wondering if my info was biased, or if this was a well-known problem. I figured this would be the blog to ask such a question, but apparently not.


Cardinal,

Perhaps you’re the one who should be more precise with language. Calling someone humorless is hardly "character assassination". Don’t be a drama queen. (Oh no, I did it again!)

Also, sock-puppet "investigations" are a particular poison of the blogosphere. What manner of satisfaction you zealots derive from such asinine detective work is beyond me—as is the imaginary motive you believe I am acting under. Just to be clear: You're insinuating that I am pretending to be a philosopher and posting made up nonsense on a small niche blog...for the purposes of...? Do you realize what you sound like? Kramer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwnanPuuCwk

Anyway, if you are on the market, I wish you the best of luck. Clearly you have an excess of time and energy on your hands and could really use a job. Just try not to be yourself too much in the interview, m’kay?

Anonymous said...

But some of us are concerned with things like ethics and grammar, both of which are prescriptive.

Right, that's where your mistake lies. Grammar need not be prescriptive. See Language Log and, well, pretty much anything by Geoff Pullum.

Cardinal Monday said...

Dr. Killjoy: I see no basis for your insulting and violent comment about kicking me in the face with my boot. And -- though it hardly seems relevant, given how alarmingly sociopathic your response is -- let me point out that I've published more in the past two years than you probably have in the last five.

Rather than responding on your level by endorsing that your teeth be punched down your throat, I'll sink only to the level of YFNA and offer a diagnosis of your, and others', antipathy toward the simple thing I said. Here goes:

You, and all the other cretins who complained about any attention to grammar, presumably couldn't parse a sentence to save your lives. Hence, you turn to character assassination and violent utterances when the topic arises.

And worse than all that, you're taking the thread off-topic. The topic at hand was, and is, whether postdoc competitions are rigged. Jason made an assertion about it without evidence, and I questioned the veracity of the assertion. So did other people. That is relevant. Your asinine, violent opinions about me are not. Put a sock in it, and let's get back to business.

Anonymous said...

Jason,

If you have a real live tip, I'd be grateful if you'd send the information to me at antilibertarian@yahoo.com. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

On a more constructive topic: can I just bitch for a moment about the online course evaluation system used at the institution where I'm currently teaching?

Thanksgiving break was not yet over, there were several weeks of regular instruction still left in the semester, and yet already students were asked to evaluate their courses. Are online course evaluations administered this early in the semester at other institutions?

I find it problematic, in part, because I either 1) structure my courses in terms of a "narrative arc" which doesn't begin to conclude until after Thanksgiving; or 2) devote time in the final weeks to (re-)emphasizing how the course content fits together.

We haven't yet reached that point in the semester, and yet already 20% of my students have evaluated the course. By the time I get the evaluations in January, I'll expect that 20% or more will have evaluated the course based on incomplete information. This makes me less inclined to treat the feedback from the evaluations as informative. Have others encountered this kind of problem?

(Caveat: I think the utility of course evaluations depends greatly on the quality of the students.)

Dr. Killjoy said...

For an expert sentence parser, you seem to have trouble reading my pretty straightforward set-theory joke as anything other than a literal threat to do brutal violence to your person.

I do hereby dub thee Aleph-Monday, the densest transfinite cardinal. Congratulations, thicko!

Cardinal Monday said...

Dr. Killjoy,

I'll respond just one more time to you. You said, "Cardinal Monday's face needs to be put in a direct bijection with my boot." That is a violent (and irrelevant) comment, which is what I called it.

My calling it that does not stem from my being 'thick' or not knowing what bijection is (1:1 correspondence -- ha, ha. Cute).

I don't know why you think that your violent comment was in good humor, and I don't care.

Mr. Zero, would you please be so good as not to publish any more comments from Dr. Killjoy (since he has used your blog to threaten me with violence), unless he is saying something that advances the discussion at hand (which is not about kicking my face with his boot)? To allow him a platform to spew further hate and 'jokes' about kicking me in the face is of dubious merit, to say the least.

Thank you.

Jamie said...

See Language Log and, well, pretty much anything by Geoff Pullum.

Especially relevant is Pullum's warm welcome to a new determinative. (I am very proud of being credited there with the germane empirical contribution concerning 'multiple'.)

On another note, there had better be some creative set theory jokes ahead, or I will be sorely disappointed.

Rodolfo said...

Using 'numerous' (and 'multiple') in these ways just sounds like bad usage.

The origin of using 'multiple' in this way stems, if I'm not mistaken, from such sources as news interviews with police officers. Some of those officers, whose training was not primarily in proper English usage but are made to speak an officialese and to memorize terms like "a multiple homicide", started improvising in their officialese and telling the media about "multiple assailants", etc.

From there, it caught on like wildfire, as many other solecisms do.

Unfortunately, dictionary editors have become rather politically correct over the past few decades, and have reconceived their job as that of reflecting rather than improving the linguistic practices of the unlettered.

It's a pity, and even more of one when philosophers who should know better follow them down the rabbit hole of creeping semantic anarchy.

As was mentioned here recently, much of this seems best explained by the decline in basic grammar education and the consequent frightened hostility toward what should be everyday terminology.

Anonymous said...

What fruit is equivalent to the axiom of choice?

Zorn's Lemon.

ba dum pssh

Cardinal Monday said...

Jamie: since Dr. Killjoy seems not to be able to come through on his promise of a set theory joke, I'll do what I can.

Jason previously suspected that I am not actually a cardinal, despite my moniker. He's right, as you can see: the union of {C,A,R,D,I,N,A,L} and {M,O,N,D,A,Y} is {A, L,A,Y,M,A,N, C,L,A,D, I,N, R,A,N,D,O,M, I,D, C,A,R,D}.

However, that got me thinking: could Killjoy really be a doctor? Wondering what the two things had in common, I derived the intersection of {D,R} and {K,I,L,L,J,O,Y}, which turns out to be... the null set.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cardinal Monday! Sets aren't sensitive to repetition of elements. So actually, the set-theoretic union of
{C, A, R, D, I, N, A, L}
and
{M, O, N, D, A, Y}
is just
{C, A, R, D, I, N, L, M, O, Y}

Also, since sets are sensitive to the order of the elements, this is the same set as
{L, A, C, Y, N, I, M, R, O, D}
And I think "Lacy Nimrod" suits Cardinal Monday quite well.

Anonymous said...

@Rodolfo: are you Roger Scruton? William Safire?

Cardinal Monday said...

Anonymous heckler 8:31, you seek to hide your identity, but it's quite evident: the letters in 'ANONYMOUS HECKLER' are easily unscrambled: HENCE, A SULKY MORON.

Had you realized that sets with repeated elements are identical with sets that are the same but for the repetitions, you might have been able to LIMN A COY DR, which is the proper order of the repetition-free set you provide. But alas, your knowledge of set theory was lacking.

Or perhaps you did know the basic rules of set theory, and just wanted to indicate that we ought to remove the duplications in 'Anonymous heckler' before unscrambling the result to discover your true identity: A CHURL'S MONKEY.

Jason Monday said...

This thread has gone from suck to blow.

RexII said...

Churl's Monkey traditionally signals the end of a thread. How about some discussion of the "inflated letter of recommendation" issue, but from the Smoker side of the hiring fence?

What is the point of letters of recommendation? What do Smokers expect their professors to write? If professors cannot give unqualified support in a recommendation, should they decline to write one? Should Smokers be satisfied with letters that say they are good but not great? They'll be good colleagues and productive philosophers and teachers, but not the next Kripke? (I think one of my letter writers described me as "solid, not flashy." Well, he's right.)

When I was an undergrad, first applying to grad school, I learned from one of my recommenders that another was killing me in his letter. Was this my mistake? Should he have told me that he couldn't give me strong support in a letter? Should he have told me that he couldn't really support me at all?

Anonymous said...

Rodolfo,

Are you for real or was your comment satire?

I hope for the latter as phrases like "improving the linguistic practices of the unlettered," and "down the rabbit hole of creeping semantic anarchy" should never be uttered unless one's tongue is about to puncture one's cheek.

If you are being serious, I shudder to think of what kind of third-tier junior college you must be stuck teaching at, such that you feel the need to pad your ego with such overwrought pretentious nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, guys. Nothing is quite so laugh-out-loud entertaining as the thought of two philosophers pretending to be pugilists.

Philosopher Fisticuffs! The new pay-per-view event! I have no doubt America will pay top dollar to watch a couple of under-fed, pedantic hipsters figure out how to make a fist and swing it without falling down.

Grow up.

Rodolfo said...

Anon 11:11, I have taught for over three decades at a university you likely aspire to. I suggest that you learn some humility, and that not everything 'trendy' (e.g. replacing Fowler with sociology of language) is here to stay.

RexII, I have often declined to write letters of recommendation for students. Many of those students were very pleasant people, and I wish them well. However, the fact is that they were not outstanding philosophers (though many were very good). An honest description of their merits would not have served them well, and neither would a dishonest one have, in the long run.

However, I do feel it incumbent on professors to decline requests from such students rather than harm their chances by writing a less-than-sterling recommendation. There may well be other professors who have seen things you have not. And on the 'smoker' side of things, I hope that students realize that polite refusals from their professors are nearly always acts of mercy.

Anonymous said...

Rodolfo said...
Anon 11:11, I have taught for over three decades at a university you likely aspire to. I suggest that you learn some humility, and that not everything 'trendy' (e.g. replacing Fowler with sociology of language) is here to stay.


So you are Roger Scruton?

Jamie said...

Cardinal Monday might be a peer: Mi'Lady Corn or Mi'Lord Cyan (could the Cardinal be commenting from the Maize and Blue department?).

Rodolfo, of course it sounds like bad usage. The language is changing, as it always is, and new usage always sounds like bad usage. A new meaning for an old word meets particular resistance when the new item is in a relatively 'closed' category like determinatives. Pullum:

this is a new phenomenon, and Brett and I speak a variety or stage of English in which the change has not yet occurred. The modification is slight, and quite natural: we are easily able to see what the Australian example means. But we wouldn't ourselves write it, at least not yet.

Semantic anarchy is our permanent condition (though I think you meant syntactic). There are no authorities, but only skillful and creative practitioners negotiating the rules as we go along together. I exhort you to celebrate this magnificent self-organizing chaos; think of the miserable alternatives.

Anonymous said...

When reading threads like this, and the comments of philosophers who may be my future colleagues, two thoughts immediately spring to mind:

1) My god, what family of semi-autistic pedant assholes did I marry into when I defended my dissertation?

2) Are people this snooty and judgmental common on search committees?

Just when I was starting to relax about this year's market, I'm now forced to consider that there might be soulless monsters like Rodolfo or Cardinal Monday reading my application materials at this very moment...and tossing them into the waste-bin due to my overuse of the gerund.

The horror!

W said...

Anon 1:12,

A friend told me something very wise many years ago:

The fact that a person has a Ph.D. does not mean that their mother loved them.

Rodolfo said...

Jamie,

You ask me to consider the alternatives to maintaining an is/ought dichotomy regarding grammar.

I ask you, in turn, to consider the alternatives to _not_ doing so. Or more properly, to consider the alternative, for there is only one.

If one rejects that dichotomy, then one is indeed committed to the view you put so pithily in the phrase "there are no authorities."

And what follows from that, of course, is that nobody, ever, can commit a grammatical error. Instead, one can only use words in a 'skillful and creative' manner.

To take a case in point: you are correct, on my view, in accusing me for saying 'semantic' when I ought to have said 'syntactic'. But if your view is correct, then you were mistaken: I was simply using the word 'semantic' in a brave, new, creative manner, which you ought to have been exhorted to celebrate.

You see the ridiculousness now, I take it? You must either retract your general claim about grammar, or else you must retract your claim about the proper word to use in the context _and_ you must retract every single grammatical or usage 'correction' you have ever made on any student's paper.

Which do you choose?

As for Anon 1:12:

Yes, people like me are common on search committees. We are judgmental, and it is our job to be. Here's a story that will no doubt delight you: on a search my department conducted last season, we had no fewer than _three_ submissions that included something called a 'Curriculum Vita' rather than a 'Curriculum Vitae'. And I was not alone in snorting and voting to give all three the toss at once. We certainly had no shortage of more competent submissions to sift through.

"The horror!", you say, in mock irony. Well, it would have been a horror to have hired on someone who either hasn't learned to write properly or else doesn't care to proofread. Perhaps other departments see things differently. Mine does not.

If you find that needlessly pedantic, and think that attention to grammar in a discipline in which care and precision in textual analysis is of the last importance, then I invite you to join Jamie in thinking that one ough to 'celebrate' creative usage rather than correct it. I also invite you to disregard commonly-used assessment criteria as mere 'pedantry' and submit poorly-written materials to job postings this year, if you would rather stand on your ludicrous egalitarianism than land a job.

Anonymous said...

RexII,

"Churl's Monkey traditionally signals the end of a thread" is the funniest thing I've read in ages. I'm actually breathless with laughter. Effing comic genius. Thank you.

Keep it up, you guys!

WV: trifeles (lifeless trifles?)

Anonymous said...

Dear Rudolpho,
If you are actually a fancy professor I am curious why you are spending your valuable time engaging in this type of pointless abusive behavior. You are not helping any of us. I thought the point of this blog was to blow off some steam, offer some advice, and collectively try to navigate the more irrational features of our discipline. You are doing none of those things. So fuck off, little bug, and let us get back to business.

Rodolfo said...

Anon 5:30, we've been through this before on the Smoker. Jamie and I (and other professors) check in here at times to keep our fingers on the pulse.

I didn't realize the point of the blog was just to blow off steam. I thought part of it was to figure out how to navigate the smoker, the on-campus and the tenure committee and actually get somewhere in the profession.

But if I'm mistaken and you'd prefer to wallow in a misery that is largely your fault because you'd rather whine than learn to improve your application package, then I have no wish to intrude. Instead, I'll leave you with a sentiment I impart to many a student in our age of entitlement:

You are free and welcome to go to hell in a handbasket of your choosing.

P.S. Another thing that tips off search committees that we've got a loser on our hands is carelessness with spelling the name of our institution or the search committee chair. I note that you've misspelled my name (a pseudonym, but still) in two ways. Quite an accomplishment. I'm sure you'll end up just where you deserve to be.

Mr. Zero said...

If one rejects that dichotomy, then one is indeed committed to the view you put so pithily in the phrase "there are no authorities." And what follows from that, of course, is that nobody, ever, can commit a grammatical error.

I don't know about the rest of you Smokers, but I'm just as worried about the possibility that my writing sample will be evaluated by someone who believes something like that as I am about the possibility that they'll throw me in the "no" pile because I misspelled 'vitae' or something.

And Rodolfo, if that really is how you operate, letting your "entitled" students know that they can go to hell if they want, you should probably be in another line of work.

Jamie said...

Rodolfo, I'm not sure what you mean by an is/ought dichotomy in grammar. But from the fact that there are no authorities it definitely does not follow that there is no such thing as a grammatical error (or, more to the point here, error of diction). There can be rules without rulers; the idea that groups of people cannot work out their own rules without imposition is gloomy. The game the children devised after school was ruined by the coach who made them play the proper way.

Above I wrote: "The language is changing, as it always is, and new usage always sounds like bad usage." Don’t you agree? So shouldn't you entertain the possibility that 'multiple' is becoming a determinative just as 'home' and ‘probe’ have become verbs?

Okay, 5:30 is right – this blog has better things to do, especially at this time of year. Say hi if you see me in a big room in Washington. I’ll buy multiple of beers.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero,

If Rodolfo throws your cv in the wastebasket, don't worry. He's doing you a favor. You ain't gonna wanna work with the likes of him nohow.

Anonymous said...

"And on the 'smoker' side of things, I hope that students realize that polite refusals from their professors are nearly always acts of mercy."

Let's see. You get into a top program, get fellowships, pass course requirements, attain the M.A., work on the diss for 4+ years, receive feedback on your work, publish an article or two, successfully defend the PhD. And now, when you are looking for a job and have virtually zero chances of finding non-academic employment, some tenured prof, who likely supported you all the way through grad school, is "mercifully" turning down a request to write you a letter of rec. I understand that some letter requests have to be turned down. But are you serious calling it an act of mercy?

Rodolfo said...

I'll ignore the rudeness of your remark, Mr. Zero, and just deal with the meat of it.

First, please consider what's involved in rejecting the is/ought dichotomy in grammar. Then there is no distinction between what people do write and what they ought to write, grammatically speaking. To say otherwise would require some is/ought dichotomy, which (by assumption) we're rejecting. With me so far?

Next step: suppose someone writes "There is five reasons for that", or some such thing. Now, since the person has written that, it is something that (ostensible) speakers of English writes. And therefore, since there is (as we saw above) no distinction between what people do write and ought to write, the person ought to have written that.

Get it now?

So, someone who believes what I said is simply someone who believes something obviously and straightforwardly correct.

As for throwing out CVs entitled 'Curriculum Vita', tossing applications that use 'multiple' when 'many' is the correct word, etc., and your suggestion that I should 'find another line of work' (as if I should care what you think): what sort of profession, exactly, do you think this is?

Professional philosophy departments are not charities, Mr. Zero. Search committees do not serve their purpose if they do not make the best attempt to hire on the candidate who seems most likely to publish successfully, secure grants, and do all the other things with which you are familiar. Serious philosophy departments are no place for people who can't be bothered to learn and adhere to basic grammar.

Perhaps you haven't considered the fact that, if a junior hire has not mastered English to an appropriate level by the time he or she becomes Assistant Professor, that individual will be less likely to produce the requisite number of publications. Unless you think that the rest of the department has some obligation to treat the junior hire like a baby and do some remedial grammar teaching to a colleague, your suggestion that we take seriously someone who confuses 'arrange' with 'arraign' entails that we have an obligation to take seriously a crew member whose relative incompetence as an oarsman will make the rest of us fall behind. As I say: this is not a charity. There are competent candidates out there who know their grammar and have all the strengths of the rubes who send us documents with 'multiple' errors. I know this, because we hire them.

My comment that students with a sense of entitlement are free to go to hell in a handbasket of their choosing is, as you smokers should know most of all, advice many people need to hear. It's an employers' market, and will be for years to come. Those who aren't ready to do what it takes should get in shape or get out of the game. If they don't, then they'll be the ones suffering the consequences: not I.

Anonymous said...

And I was not alone in snorting and voting to give all three the toss at once.

Good god. This is the *freaking definition* of a pedant.

"Hey this applicant has had essays selected to Philosopher's Annual two years running, has a national teaching award, and won a €250,000 research grant. Ah, but she doesn't know the difference between the Latin singular and genitive forms. Obviously incompetent for our philosophy faculty position." [bins dossier]

Mr. Zero said...

First, please consider what's involved in rejecting the is/ought dichotomy in grammar.

For one thing, (as Jamie points out) the text of Jamie's comment doesn't commit him to the rejection of the is/ought dichotomy with respect to grammar; he said there are no grammatical authorities. This view, about authorities, is the view you were attacking. You made up the is/ought thing yourself.

So, suppose that grammatical rules were not set by an authority, but rather by widespread agreement on the part of language users--by convention. If that were true, then there would be no grammatical "authority," but there would still be grammatical rules and it would be possible to make a grammatical mistake. It might not always be totally clear what the rules were, and there might be indeterminate cases in which there wasn't any widespread agreement about what the rules were. And it would be possible, as conventions changed over time, for the rules to change over time. But there could still be rules in the absence of an authority.

Now, maybe this view is incorrect. Maybe it ultimately won't work. Maybe, but it certainly is epistemically possible. It's a live option. It does not "follow from" the absence of a grammatical authority that grammatical mistakes are impossible.

So anyways, if you read my writing sample and "give it a toss," as you say, I hope it's because of something that's actually an error, and that it's an error I have actually committed, and not one that you made up based on an unsophisticated and careless misreading of the text.

and your suggestion that I should 'find another line of work' (as if I should care what you think): what sort of profession, exactly, do you think this is?

I think it's a profession in which we are employed as educators by institutions of higher learning.

I realize that some students have an unearned sense of entitlement, and that some of them need a kick in the pants. But these kicks, which are supposed to be ultimately humane and in the student's interest, are best delivered from a position of empathy and respect. The attitude toward your students you've displayed here--how entitled you think they are, and how they "are free and welcome to go to hell in a handbasket of [their] choosing"--is high-handed, disrespectful, insulting, and unnecessarily nasty.

I am open to the possibility that this doesn't accurately reflect your classroom persona, which I why I used the conditionalized sentence construction I did. But if it is accurate, your students would be well-served if you found another calling. If it's accurate, your career as a teacher has outlived its usefulness.

Rodolfo said...

To Mr. Zero (Part 1) and Jamie:

Now that you have clarified that you mean something less radical (and more intelligent) by there being no authorities in grammar, I agree: but I don't see why this weaker claim threatens my original point.

My point was that there are misuses of the language, and that using 'arraign' instead of 'arrange', 'Vita' instead of 'Vitae', and 'multiple' instead of many are examples those misuses.

Now, you point out that language does evolve, and that we must therefore pay _some_ attention to actual usage (description) in determining proper usage (prescription). I would certainly agree, and even the supposedly stodgy Fowlers made this point.

However, one can take that too far, obviously. If one used the _mere_ fact that someone used a word in some way to constitute grounds for saying that word was used correctly, then one would be stuck in linguistic anarchy.

Moreover, given that editors of dictionaries and usage guides have generally reconceived their roles as predominantly descriptive over the last few decades, one must take more care than in yesteryear before taking their new recommendations as solid.

For instance: if intelligent, highly competent users of the English language find a way to speak more efficiently, precisely, etc. without introducing needless ambiguity or other linguistic vices, then I think one ought to take their new uses seriously.

The situation is very different, however, if someone with no grasp of grammar gets confused between 'many' and 'multiple' (say) on some reality show, resulting in the grammatically illiterate (which includes most high school graduates these days) talking about 'multiple reasons', which, thanks to the fact that universities have become far less strict on grammar in their admissions criteria, leads to the solecism appearing in a PhD dissertation.

I'm not against positive change in language: far from it. But please explain to me, if you would, how it strengthens the language to have a clunky, three-syllable word doing an ugly job that a commonly-known, correct, simple two-syllable word already does.

Or for that matter, please tell me how the use of Latin (or English) would be improved by bringing in a new form of the 1st declension genetive singular and allowing 'vita' to stand in for 'vitae'.

If there is no such improvement to be found, then dignifying such obvious errors cannot count as part of the 'evolution' of language.

Dr. Killjoy said...

I due hearbye deklair Rudollphfo two half uslurped Kardinel Mondae as the most biggest dooshbag on this blog.

The mear fakt dat he ginuwinly thinks dat knowlej of declenshuns of a ded language sumhow trax filosofical prowiss itselff ax as its own devastatin cownterexampel. Too thunk it mattterud whutsowevr is knot but thee heighth of moranic pretenshun.

Seariusly, Roedollphfoe, go fuk yurself.

Rodolfo said...

Now, to respond to various others on the job search matters:

Anon. 3:11 characterized me as saying, "Hey this applicant has had essays selected to Philosopher's Annual two years running, has a national teaching award, and won a €250,000 research grant. Ah, but she doesn't know the difference between the Latin singular and genitive forms. Obviously incompetent for our philosophy faculty position." [bins dossier]

This is actually quite accurate. But you're forgetting the last part: I reach over and pick up the CV of someone else who has equally strong qualifications and knows how to spell 'vitae'.

Given the choice, which would you pick out of the ocean of highly qualified applicants? Think about it.

Anon 8:10 asks, " I understand that some letter requests have to be turned down. But are you serious calling it an act of mercy?"

What I am calling an act of mercy is my choice not to write a letter that would harm the student and not to lie in a way that would be likely to lead to a bad situation for both the student and the department later on. By declining to write a letter, I'm allowing the student to go with someone else, if the person has impressed someone else sufficiently during his or her time in the PhD program. And if he or she hasn't, then it's unfortunate, but the student's chances of securing tenure will not be strong in any event.

What would you suggest as a more merciful alternative, please?

Finally, Mr. Zero: I think you misread me. I do try hard, and tactfully, to get the best out of my students. I am encouraging and -- to the best of my abilities -- judicious in the classroom and also in my role on dissertation committees.

However, what we are talking about here is not my proper role in the classroom or on a dissertation committee. It is my role as a potential recommender, and as a search committee member.

If a PhD student has got to the point where he or she is dealing with me in one of those two capacities, then it is far too late for a helpful 'kick in the pants', or even for a helpful word of advice on how to pull things together. The student will, by that time, have reached the end of the road.

That is why, at that point, overlooking obvious defects would be nothing more than an expensive act of ill-conceived charity, as I explained above.

Again: what would you have me do instead, given the reality of the job market (i.e. that for every superbly qualified candidate save for one defect, there are others equally qualified save for _no_ defects)?

Anonymous said...

"Another thing that tips off search committees that we've got a loser on our hands is carelessness with spelling the name of our institution or the search committee chair. I note that you've misspelled my name (a pseudonym, but still) in two ways. Quite an accomplishment. I'm sure you'll end up just where you deserve to be."

Rude-olfo, what a pathetically petty attack on Mr. Zero. Hearty congrats.

Rodolfo said...

Having read yet another round of responses and considered their quality, I begin to think that the anonymous poster was right who said that I have better things to do with my time than continue this discussion.

With the exception of Jamie (with whom I am acquainted personally), the rest of the responses have been little or nothing more than laughable attempts to impugn my character. I'm not offended, but I am disappointed that none of you could come up with anything better.

Here's the moral of the story, which I'll leave for the wise in taking my leave. There are two ways to respond to what I have said. Get ready, or get out of the game.

Getting ready means facing up to the reality of the market for jobs you say you want. If you think I'm alone in the way I talk about job applications, then by all means ask other SC members to chime in. Please: ask them whether they or anyone they have served with has ever thrown out an application for being incompetently written or for containing something called a 'Curriculum Vita'.

Once you've learned the facts of the matter, the next step in getting ready is to fill in whatever deficiencies your substandard education may have left you with, and to proofread, proofread, proofread whatever you send a search committee's way.

If you're looking for someone to blame for the fact that you can't tell an arraignment from an arrangement, or lack other skills that are needed for the job, then my humble suggestion is that you blame yourself, or blame your program, or blame your grade school. And once you're done with the blaming, you'll be faced with the same old choice. Are you going to

a) sit there and cry about your inadequacies?

b) try to persuade one another that the criteria by which you're assessed are unreasonable, in the vain hope that it will get you a job?

c) try to start an ill-conceived and hopeless egalitarian revolution with the goal of stopping SCs from using linguistic competence, etc. from counting?

d) work to improve your remaining inadequacies and hone your application package? or

e) get out of the game and do something else with your time?

In the end, only d) or e) matter. The other options won't help you.

Here endeth the lesson.

Or, as you say on the Smoker,

A CHURL'S MONKEY.

Anonymous said...

7:33, he was addressing 5:30, not Zero.

Anonymous said...

sorry to interrupt the present discussion, but, mr. zero, it is time for a post devoted to this:

http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/gripping-criticism-re-mizzou-denial-of-womans-tenure/#comments

Mr. Zero said...

Now that you have clarified that you mean something less radical...

Give me a break. Nobody said anything about any is/ought dichotomy. Nobody said anything that entails or implies via any series of uncontroversial premises that there are no incorrect uses of language, or that if somebody does in fact use the language like so then she ought to have used the language like so. Descriptivism, by itself, is compatible with the existence of incorrect uses of language. When a descriptivist says of some use of language that it is incorrect, she takes herself to be making a descriptive claim about it: it is regarded as incorrect by (a critical mass of) the relevant community of language users. Or something like that.

So look. If you read my writing sample, I would appreciate it if you would be more careful and/or thoughtful than this.

Finally, Mr. Zero: I think you misread me. I do try hard, and tactfully, to get the best out of my students. I am encouraging and ... judicious in the classroom and also in my role on dissertation committees.

No, I did not misread you. Maybe that's what you meant--although I doubt it--but it is definitely not what you said. You said, "I'll leave you with a sentiment I impart to many a student in our age of entitlement: You are free and welcome to go to hell in a handbasket of your choosing." That you try hard to be encouraging and judicious is not contained in or suggested by your remarks.

However, what we are talking about here is not my proper role in the classroom or on a dissertation committee. It is my role as a potential recommender, and as a search committee member.

I realize that this is a side issue. But you said, /here is some dickhead thing I tell my students/. I said, /if that's an accurate indication of how you behave toward your students, you shouldn't be a teacher, because you treat your students abominably./

Now you're saying, /No, no. I don't really treat my students like that. I'm encouraging and tactful and judicious./ Well, I don't believe you. Because, for one thing, I have yet to see you display even a modicum of tact or judiciousness, in what is admittedly a small and potentially unrepresentative sample size. But for another thing, in the next breath you go on, /Some of these students are at the end of the road! It's too late to help them! What would you have me do, overlook their obvious defects?/

I would have you be respectful and empathetic (not to mention tactful, encouraging, and judicious), and I would have you refrain from being high-handed, disrespectful, insulting, and unnecessarily nasty. I think you could tell them the hard truths in a manner that demonstrates that you are trying to be helpful. I think you could do this before it's too late.

...the rest of the responses have been little or nothing more than laughable attempts to impugn my character.

I'm sorry if you think I've attempted to impugn your character. I have not attempted to impugn anything. I have attempted to point out that the character traits you have displayed here are not too good. I've acknowledged all along the possibility that your behavior here is not representative. If your behavior is unrepresentative, I haven't said anything at all about your character. If it is representative, I didn't impugn your character; you did.

If you're looking for someone to blame for the fact that you can't tell an arraignment from an arrangement

Do you really think that "Jason" doesn't know an arrangement from an arraignment? Because parity of reasoning entails that, in light of your comment at November 28, 2011 8:22 PM, you can't tell semantics from syntax. I wonder if you will sit there and cry over your inadequacies, or try to persuade yourself that that the criteria by which you're assessed, which you thought were good enough to use against "Jason" less than an hour ago, are unreasonable, or what.

Anonymous said...

Just to second anon 10:30, I too would like to see a post dedicated to the Zach Ernst article. It not only discusses a case of blatant sexism in the profession, but raise lots of issues that people on the market could stand to hear about.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear God, please let there be more people like Mr. Zero and less people like Rude-Alpo in the philosophy world. Holy shit, now I laboring away on a fucking cover letter with visions of delusional self-absorbed psychopaths judging my career on my sometimes adventurous use of semicolons. I know people like this exist; but, shiiiiiiit....

Anonymous said...

I too heartily second a discussion of Zachary Ernst piece. Btw, in that excellent essay he spells "Vitae" without the "e": "Vita."

Anonymous said...

The poster who referred to Rodolfo and Cardinal Monday as "semi-autistic" was being far too kind. When I was an undergrad, I had a summer job working with autistic teenagers, and these two are the DSM-V spitting image.

The lack of any sense of humor, inability to comprehend the spirit of a post, fixation on quibbling minutiae, superiority complex, and general dearth of self-awareness are dead giveaways.

Sadly, academic philosophy is full of such types.

They mock others as failed philosophers for using "multiple" instead of "many," or making minor errors in Latin declension, but their own obtuseness and pathological inability to see themselves from the vantage of others demonstrates that they have failed the cardinal requirement of any philosopher: Know yourself.

They are also, as YFNA noted, doomed to never make any original or creative contribution to their field; not on the basis of any lack of intelligence, but rather from their obvious lack of imagination.

Anonymous said...

Dear Job Seekers,

Please don't allow Rodolpho to cause you job market stress. Most search committee members aren't such persnickety self-absorbed blowhards.

Relax, send your best stuff, and let it go.

Anonymous said...

Rodolfo,

I know you said you won't respond to anything more, but I'd actually like to thank you for your bluntness. I visit the smoker to commiserate sometimes, it's true; but most of all, I want some tips on how to do well in the present climate. What you say is consistent with what I was told by my placement officer, but a bit more detailed in some ways.

Perhaps I'm alone here in taking your advice to heart. If so, great: I'll have a big advantage over those who don't seem to care what search committees are looking for.

BTW, I had a professor as an undergrad who told some students they had the right to go to hell in a handbasket of their choosing (perhaps you knew him! He went to Michigan for his PhD, FWIW). I was one of the students who got told that, I admit. The context was that we would complain that he was demanding that we do too much work for his class, so we defiantly challenged him to fail us all on the midterm we thought was impossible. It was a bit like the part in _Stand and Deliver_ where the students tried to take on Jaime Escalante in a similar manner, and... we met with a similar result. Looking back, I'm glad he pushed us.

Rodolfo said...

Mr. Zero,

I inadvertently called something semantical when I should have called it syntactical. That is correct. How is that different from the vita/vitae confusion? It's different because I am writing anonymously in an informal blog (and not proofreading). The three people who each sent us a 'curriculum vita' were making a formal submission to a committee that was to determine their future. So, no hypocricy there.

Jason was also writing anonymously in an informal blog, that's true. My complaint was not with him for confusing 'arrangement' and 'arraignment'; it was with those who claimed that only a pissant would care. Here's the news: your search committees will almost certainly involve someone who cares; and if you don't care, then you won't get the position. I've already explained the reason.

Am I going to cry over my inadequacies, you ask, because I confused 'syntax' with 'semantics'? No, I am not. I am aware of the difference, and I am aware that such a confusion is philosophically unacceptable. Further, I have tenure and a solid string of publications.

You, however, have the chance (as I have already said too many times) to remedy your failings. In your case, one of your failings is your attitude. Never once in our lengthy exchange, Mr. Zero, have you acknowledged the obvious fact that a department is not a charity; nor have you said a single thing to suggest that you are willing to do what it takes to get the job. I suppose that's why they call you Mr. Zero.

And now I really must sign off, permanently. I won't be checking in again for some time, as I have work to do. Good luck with your long-overdue attitude adjustment, Mr. Zero: it's a step that must come before anything else.

Westcoast feminist said...

My department was lucky enough to make several hires in the last few years, despite its originally low size. I served on two of the search committees, but was involved tangentially in one of the other searches.

Our committees disqualified many candidates for reasons similar to the ones Rodolfo mentions. And here's something you won't like to hear: I agreed that the candidates should be disqualified, and in one case actually pushed for the disqualification (successfully).

Here's something you'll like even less: the person I got rejected had bad table manners.

Now, before you get out the vitriolic acid, give me a chance to explain.

These grounds for disqualification seem very petty, it's true. What could matter less than the ability to use "multiple" correctly or distinguish between a salad fork and a dinner fork? I'm sure I would have been up in arms too, if I'd heard this years ago.

But you can't make a fair judgment without knowing the context. And the context is this: associate professors are colleagues, potential department chairs, potential deans, and potential presidents. In all those capacities, they (we) all have the responsibility of looking out for the group. That means bringing in the grants, boosting the departmental publication record, and -- yes, it may seem petty, but it's what makes the world go round -- hobnobbing with deans, donors, and what have you to get new lines, scholarships, library acquisitions, etc. sent our way.

Are these things any reflection on the quality of your philosophical research, your teaching, etc.? Of course not. Would Socrates have passed through our filters unscathed? Definitely not.

But let's be for real. If you want to be Socrates, wonderful: but remember, even he didn't do it for a living. If you want to enter the profession, then the sad fact is that you have to act and present yourself as a professional. That's the best advice I have to give. It may sound cold, but it'll help you pay the bills.

Others, like Kerry Ann Rockquemore, have already warned people about falling into the teaching trap (http://newfacultysuccess.blogspot.com/2010/03/teaching-trap.html). What's not as widely known is that it's equally bad to fall into the research trap, and to think that a string of publications are all you need to get a job nowadays.

Good luck to everyone this season. And when in doubt, remember that reading books on table manners and grammar take much less time than philosophy books, and will probably do you much more good.

Justin Kalef said...

I'd like to third the motion to discuss the Zach Ernst piece, Mr. Zero.

@12:48 - A curriculum vitae can also be called a 'vita'. But it is never a 'vitae' or a 'curriculum vita'.

beaver said...

And 1:31 wins the Eddie Haskell prize! Well done, sir (or madam, but, yeah, sir)!

Mr. Zero said...

I inadvertently called something semantical when I should have called it syntactical... How is that different from the vita/vitae confusion? It's different because I am writing anonymously in an informal blog (and not proofreading). ...So, no hypocricy [sic] there.

I didn't compare it to the vitae/vita typo. I compared it to your attack on Jason for inadvertently calling something an arraignment when he should have called it an arrangement. Which I thought was pretty hypocritical. And I always thought it was spelled 'hypocrisy.'

Jason was also writing anonymously in an informal blog, that's true. My complaint was not with him for confusing 'arrangement' and 'arraignment'; it was with those who claimed that only a pissant would care.

You're a liar. Maybe you also complain about him thinking a pissant would care (I didn't check). But if so, it's in addition to beating him up over exactly the sort of error that you excuse in yourself, when at November 30 @ 10:13 AM when you write, "If you're looking for someone to blame for the fact that you can't tell an arraignment from an arrangement..." See, liar?

Am I going to cry over my inadequacies, you ask, because I confused 'syntax' with 'semantics'?

I wasn't literally asking the question. I was pointing out that you hold other people to one standard while holding yourself to another, lower, standard. And that you're a total dick about it. Again, if you read my writing sample, please take more care than this.

You, however, have the chance (as I have already said too many times) to remedy your failings. In your case, one of your failings is your attitude. Never once in our lengthy exchange, Mr. Zero, have you acknowledged the obvious fact that a department is not a charity...

What are you talking about? When do you imagine that I suggested that philosophy departments might be charities? Why would I take the time to specifically acknowledge something so obvious? How does that prove I have a bad attitude? And why doesn't the time I pointed out that ours is a profession in which we are employed as educators by institutions of higher learning count as this acknowledgment? It's not as though institutions of higher learning are charities.

...nor have you said a single thing to suggest that you are willing to do what it takes to get the job.

What are you talking about? Seriously. Where do you imagine that I would have demonstrated this willingness? What things that it takes to get the job do you imagine that I am unwilling to do? Do you think I'm unwilling to spell 'vitae' right on my vitae or something?

I suppose that's why they call you Mr. Zero.

No, they call me Mr. Zero because that's the pseudonym I picked for myself.

And now I really must sign off, permanently.

Glad to hear it. I hope it's really true this time.

Good luck with your long-overdue attitude adjustment, Mr. Zero: it's a step that must come before anything else.

I'm not convinced that you're for real, Rodolfo, but if you are, it only proves that a colossally shitty attitude is no obstacle at all to getting a tenure-track job.

Mr. Zero said...

I thought the Ernst piece was interesting and important, too, and I'll try to post something about it soon. Might be tomorrow, though. I realize it's more important than this little tiff I'm having with Rodolfo. Misplaced priorities.

Anonymous said...

We need to reject people who use the English language incorrectly. I get it Rodolfo. I thought about it and I get it.

I think we should get to this as soon as we root out tenured professors who are really awful philosophers. Suppose someone suggests that there are no experts with regards to ethical truth. A common enough claim. Have they denied the is/ought gap with regards to ethics? No. Anyone who suggests so is guilty of deep ignorance of the issue. If the person goes on to suggest that they realized all along that there were more options than 'accept ethical experts' and 'deny the is/ought gap' then you would be forced to conclude that either they don't understand what logical implication is, or that they were being self-consciously unfair in their presentation of their opponent's view. So either intellectually dishonest, deeply stupid or ignorant of the conceptual lay of land.

Which are you Rodolfo? And how long do we have to wait for waste's of space like you to leave positions your intellect, knowledge or character makes you unfit for?

Anonymous said...

I see that Wiki Jobs announces that some universities have scheduled first-round interviews. Does that mean that those who haven't been contacted by those universities are already out of the game, or are there still chances?

Anonymous said...

Mr Zero, your 3:35 post is simply superb.

Justin Kalef said...

4:45,

After my experience last year, I wouldn't advise trusting the Jobs Wiki at all.

Many jobs were indicated as being at the on-campus interview stage when really (as I later found out) the committee had not yet made its first decisions. I actually landed an on-campus interview for a position that I believe was listed as filled at the time. According to the search committee members (one of whom I have since met and spoken with), the other on-campus interviews were all scheduled within about a week of mine.

So I'm steering clear of the Phylo Wiki updates this year. It's a needless source of stress and misinformation.

Hylas said...

I have to get this off my chest.

I am a senior faculty member. I've been employed at one good department for about fifteen years. It's not Rutgers, but it's a really great job, and yes, I had to be lucky to get it. And I am also lucky to have colleagues whom I really like (not every single one of them, but almost all).
Some of my colleagues are good at schmoozing up potential donors, buttering up deans, etc. Some are not good at it at all. Some of my colleagues are good at "acting professional", and some of them dress well. And others don't, at all. And it doesn't make any difference to their careers, departmental status, to whether they get raises, or anything important -- I mean, unless you think those skills are themselves important and take pride in them. Which is fine.

But it's just bullshit to say that you (you job-seekers or soon-to-bes) should be spending more time on any of that stuff. That would really be a terrible mistake. It's not why you got into philosophy, and if someone told you that by entering the philosophical world you were signing up for a life of schmoozing and looking and acting professional, you would have said, "Fuck it". I bet. I sure would have.

I'm not denigrating the ability to be smooth and 'professional' (except that whenever anyone uses the word that way it makes me want to stick my finger down my throat). Sure, I've benefited from one of my colleagues' ability to screw a big donation out of an alumnus. But I would NEVER, not for one fleeting moment, even consider the question of whether a job applicant for a position here could be good at anything besides philosophy and teaching philosophy. If we were considering the final three, and one of my colleagues said, "I know Phil has a more interesting research program, but Sophie would be better at stroking the DoF and getting donors to fork over money," I would figure my colleague had to be joking.

I'm not saying this to trumpet the purity or virtue of myself or my department. I'm saying it because I sometimes get worried that some Smokers might actually start to believe or at least worry that maybe you are the naive ones, that you need to be more realistic, etc. Not true. For sure. I guess there are some isolated pockets of this stuff, but I give about ten talks a year at all kinds of departments and I have a pretty good feel for the culture, and it's just not like that. And yes, at a second tier state university somebody in the department is going to have to be good at finding deals, sources of revenue, new ways to get permission to do things, protecting your teaching load from an idiotic efficiency expert. (And sometimes at a top tier university, too.) But YOU don't have to be good at that. I'm sure not, and 18 out of your 20 favorite philosophers aren't either.

So don't read the book on manners, unless it's a Foucaultian analysis of politesse and power. If you read a book on grammar, let it be Aspects of a Theory of Syntax. Do what you love. And if I ever interview you, tell me about a problem I've never heard of that is so puzzling it makes me fall awkwardly silent for three whole minutes, and then the solution you came up with that's so elegant that I gurgle in an extremely unprofessional manner.
We'll invite you to campus, and you'll wear sneakers and give your talk without Powerpoint but everyone will be rapt. Afterward I'll probably spill vindaloo on my shirt and my colleague will roll her eyes and then tell you a rude story about that really sharp-looking guy you thought was your main rival for the job and what a fraud he turned out to be. You'll say to yourself, "She really doesn't present herself as a professional."

This has been my first and last comment at the Philosophy Smoker.

Anonymous said...

@4:45

Are you referring to the Phylo wiki? If so, I suppose it depends on how long ago the announcementin question was posted. If fairly recently, it's still possible you might be contacted for an interview; if awhile ago, it's less likely that you will be contacted. (That's my suspicion, at any rate.)

Anonymous said...

I think "West coast feminist" deserves the Philosophy Smoker "Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Award" (tm).

When you get that job, smokers, make sure your new "colleagues" at least give you a kiss after they destroy your soul.

Justin Kalef said...

Hylas wrote: "This has been my first and last comment at the Philosophy Smoker."

What??? After that amazing post, you're not going to let us know where you are and how we can come work with you? What a bummer.

Thanks for the uplifting perspective, though.

Sigh said...

I have zero idea why the "multiple" portion of this discussion bothers me so much.

Some gramatically illiterate writers, according to Rodolfo:

here,

here,

and here.

I am attempting to take this discussion exactly as seriously as a lengthy discussion in the comments of a blog post on the internet ought to be taken.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Ernst piece, this other short text by him is not directly relevant, but it certainly is an interesting look at another aspect of the profession:

http://web.missouri.edu/~ernstz/Home_files/emperor-1.pdf

Anonymous said...

I never comment here either. But I have to say this: provided Westcoast Feminist isn't just messing with us, that is just truly abhorrent. And no, I don't mean that mixing up a salad fork and a dinner fork is truly abhorrent. That is the most blatantly classist, petty, and possibly evil reason to get someone rejected I have ever heard of.

Westcoast feminist said...

8:20, grow up. Please. Being an academic is a job like any other. If you want a career, you do what it takes to be taken seriously.

Maybe I'm not hip enough for the crowd here (I'm an American transplant to the west coast of Canada, so I'm used to hanging around with people who think they're cooler and more 'laid back' than I am), but let's face it: manners matter.

Don't believe me? Then let me refresh your memory. A year ago, there was a discussion here about someone who got a job despite the fact that he licked a plate after eating his dinner. People on this blog (yes, even you cool little 'Smokers') were scandalized.

Why? Because there are some things that one does not do if one doesn't want to show a complete lack of style. Want to call me a 'classist' for saying that? Try me. My political credentials are impeccable.

The only difference between licking a plate and using a dinner fork to eat a salad is that some of us notice the first but not the second, and others notice them both. I belong to the second group.

Sorry to get angry. I wish you job seekers the best of luck. Just, please, let's not pretend that we're all to busy running around in our sneakers and pretentiously spilling vindaloo all over ourselves to note the obvious.

Anonymous said...

So far we've gotten less than 40applications for our advertised position.

Anonymous said...

I just have to say that I had the misfortune of being a T-T member of a department with someone who had exactly the attitude of Westcoast Feminist. It was sheer hell to have to hear her talk about the poor dress, bad habits, bad driving, and lack of professional demeanor of my other colleagues behind their backs and then wonder what she was saying about me. As also applies to the criminally insane or rabid dogs, these nasty people are out there, and God help you if you are in their crosshairs.

Anonymous said...

"Just, please, let's not pretend that we're all to busy running around in our sneakers and pretentiously spilling vindaloo all over ourselves to note the obvious."

Yeah, it's really pretentious to spill food on yourself and wear sneakers. And love philosophy and not care about typos and manners. That's really pretentious. Oh, and only hipsters like Socrates are so cool that they use improper manners because they're "to busy" thinking about philosophy.

("to busy"? Really? I hope your anonymity is well-protected, because your suit-wearing, grammar-book-reading colleagues are going to drum you out of Western Canadian if they find out you don't even know the most basic rules of grammar.)

Anonymous said...

"So far we've gotten less than 40applications for our advertised position."

10:37: Could you perhaps say a little bit more about this position? Please? As a job candidate I am dying for information like this.

Elizabeth Harman said...

Taking it to be a strike against a job applicant that she or he uses the wrong fork to eat the salad course is definitely classist. Taking it to be a disqualifying strike is outrageous. I'm horrified.

Anonymous said...

Re: Phylo wiki

It never brings you good news. It only ever brings bad news. And the bad news it brings is inconclusive. (Still I can help but look.)

On the flip side, I recommend signing your website up for Google Analytics. It's free, and it only ever gives you good news --- inconclusive good news, but good nonetheless. "Hey someone from that school just checked me out!" It provides me with enough of a boost to combat the negatives of seeing a job you wanted go to 'Interviews Scheduled'.

Anonymous said...

"So far we've gotten less than 40 applications for our advertised position."

What is the AOS/AOC?

Anonymous said...

@ 'Only 40 applications': could you please send the name of your department to antilibertarian@yahoo.com? Thanks!

zombie said...

If you land a campus interview, you will find yourself eating 3 meals a day with your possible future colleagues. So, brush up on your table manners, just so you can act like an adult. Don't get drunk. Otherwise, spend your time worrying about other things.

I cannot remember ever, on a campus interview, being taken to a restaurant fancy enough to give me more forks than I knew what to do with. Some of them had cloth napkins, and some were paper napkin places. Are there departments out there taking their candidates to multi-course dinners at fancy-schmancy eateries? Are they scrutinizing fork usage? Do they immediately disqualify anyone from a culture where the "rules" around eating are different? Clearly these are not departments who were interested in me.

(Anyhoo, the rule for forks is simple: work your way in from the left with each course. Not that anyone will really, truly care. But, you know, you don't want the snooty waiter to slap your wrist.)

Anonymous said...

Zombie,

Thanks for the tip.

What should you do if you have severe food allergies to almost everything? I can't eat anything at most restaurants. I mean, anything. But I don't want to stick out like a sore thumb.

Anonymous said...

Westcoast feminist,

Holy crap. I think I actually know who you are (I'm a BC person myself, and you've conveniently narrowed it down to my province). I'm tempted to out you. But I'll refrain in order to protect the guilty.

If you are who I think you are, then let me say that you are a despicable, intolerable human being and that is lost on few of your colleagues. As to who would be colluding with you in your pettiness, I can only think of one arrogant shit in your department who would stoop to that level. But stoop he certainly would. I've heard about his behaviour on previous SCs. Not good.

Fortunately, many others in your department serve as something of a counterbalance.

You are a disgrace to your adoptive country and province, whoever you are. Shame on you.

Hylas, thank you for partly restoring my faith in my fellow philosophers.

Anonymous said...

"Please. Being an academic is a job like any other. If you want a career, you do what it takes to be taken seriously."

Given your "impeccable political credentials," you're probably already aware of how Gramsci would respond to this (and what he would say about you for having written it).

To this I would add, "the philosophers of the world have merely attempted to snag TT positions in various ways; the point is to get a TT position at a Leiterrific school."

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to return to my heavily-annotated edition of "Prolegomena zu einer jeden k├╝nftigen Etikette."

Anonymous said...

I'm curious. To those who want the job info on that position with only 40 applicants so far...why? Either you have already applied to it, or you looked at the ad and decided against it.

Anonymous said...

"So far we've gotten less than 40 applications for our advertised position."

well, we received over 700 (open position in NYC)

Anonymous said...

as far as table manner discriminations go, do the snooty people / departments try to make it pan-cultural? that is, do you also take candidates out to sushi places and rule out the ones who mix wasabi with soy sauce, or take candidates out to italian restaurants and rule out the ones who ask for cheese on their seafood pasta?

Anonymous said...

This thread is like a train-wreck that you can't look away from.

First off, mad kudos to "Sigh". The problem with pretentious grammar/spelling/word-choice Nazis like Rodolfo is that their condescension invariably blows up in their face, making them look like a much bigger dumbass (and blowhard) than the people they were correcting.

Second, just when I thought Rodolfo had the gold medal podium locked up for "worst human being in the field," Westcoast feminist enters the pool like some East German swimmer on roids.

My favorite bit is not his/her jaw-dropping classist remark about the salad fork, but the pathetic retort to criticism thereof: "Want to call me a 'classist' for saying that? Try me. My political credentials are impeccable."

Neat. So as long as you mouth the proper liberal platitudes, it's ok to treat people who might not be used to eating multi-course meals at fancy restaurants as plebian garbage unworthy of your association?

What is so arresting to me is that these people (sc. Cardinal, Rodolfo, and Westcoast) have such little self-awareness that they simply cannot comprehend why anyone would take umbrage at their shameless Versailles-level snobbery.

Westcoast feminist said...

I'm not going to bother with this testosterone-engorged contest of measuring johnsons. I came by to offer some advice for job seekers, and to wish everyone the best (twice). There's no need for this hostility.

What people have said about me is ugly and hurtful. I'm not going to play the sexism card here, but it might be worth thinking about that nobody raced to call Rodolfo a 'classist' or to make a reference to body image in his case. I, however, am compared to a non-female "East German swimmer on 'roids" (in other words, not a woman at all, for those who remember the controversy).

Zombie, however, can say whatever he wishes about table manners with nary a raised eyebrow. Odd, that.

Sorry I don't have a funny word verification story to share. Another sign that I'm not 'hip' enough, I suppose. Or maybe hateful agression just doesn't leave me in the mood.

Cardinal Monday said...

Uh, 1:29,

I never said anything about proper conduct in job interviews, etc. I'm actually quite disturbed by what Rodolfo and Westcoast Feminist have been saying, since I'm on the job market myself and what they're saying seems unfair and callous.

All I said was that someone who made an odd-sounding claim wrote in a manner that seemed to suggest that he wasn't who he said he was. That's all.

TSS said...

Is Interfolio down for other folks today, or do am I just in a special circle of hell?

WV: sionscon. I have nothing clever to say about this.

zombie said...

Anon 9:35: I've got several food allergies myself, but your situation sounds far more complicated. You WILL be taken to restaurants on a campus visit. I have found my hosts to be pretty accommodating, just as restaurants generally try to please. Honestly, no one ever raised an eyebrow, even as I grilled waiters about the food. I guess it's a chance for people to show that they're not jerks. (I suppose some will fail, if they're food and fork nazis)

If you really can't risk eating anything in a restaurant, perhaps you could just think of the meals as an opportunity to socialize with potential colleagues. Eat something beforehand, so you're not starving. Drink some tea.

see here:
http://www.manager-tools.com/forums-4696

The trick will be eating at all for you. I've had campus visits where they scheduled me for almost every minute, with few breaks. A campus visit can really have you going from dawn to well into the night. (It pays to pack snacks.)

Anonymous said...

Why is it that even though I'm doing okay on the market, I still take it so personally when I see from the wiki that some search committee doesn't want to know?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Zombie! This is _priceless_.

Lucretius said...

Roldolfo(ol),

You wrote: "Or for that matter, please tell me how the use of Latin (or English) would be improved by bringing in a new form of the 1st declension genetive singular and allowing 'vita' to stand in for 'vitae'."

I'm not only a philosopher, I'm a classicist. Had I any doubt that you were a first-class putz before reading the above quote, your all-too-obvious lack of actual knowledge of Latin here would have laid that to rest nicely. That petard ain't so comfortable when you dangle in mid-air is it? Fool.

Anonymous said...

"(It pays to pack snacks.)"

Yup. Bottle of water and some energy bars got me through the day.

Anonymous said...

WestFem, that is hilarious. Everybody except you gets it, so I'm not sure I should clue you in.
Well, for one thing, you never said you were a woman, so your idea that people are being mean to you because you are a woman is kind of pathetic. But that's not the funny part.

I think I won't tell you. (Tell yourself it's because you aren't 'hip' enough.)

Anonymous said...

I would have an unhealthy aversion to folks who think that 'aggressive' is spelled 'agressive.'

Another feminist said...

For those of you who didn't know the reference to the 'East German swimmer on steroids' (or want to pretend you didn't know):

http://articles.cnn.com/2008-08-11/world/sexchange.athlete_1_gene-doping-gene-therapy-oral-turinabol?_s=PM:WORLD

To recap: a poster faced a clearly sexist attack on this thread while others stood by and jeered. I find that disturbing.

Anonymous said...

There is no way that WestFem is serious. Her comments are obviously ridiculous. She's just some kind of sadist trying to scare smokers.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to fax the early registration form to the APA for the last 3 days and guess what happens? I keep receiving an error message indicating "no answer!"
I hate you APA, I hate you.

word verification: incompetent fools

zombie said...

"Zombie, however, can say whatever he wishes about table manners with nary a raised eyebrow. Odd, that."

Odd that Westcoast Feminist (a) assumes that zombie is a he, and (b) thinks zombie informing the plebes about the fork rule warrants a raised eyebrow. Or was it the reference to paper napkins?

For the record, zombie uses cloth napkins at home because they're eco-friendly. Some are X-Men cloth napkins, some have cartoon cows on them. We're fancy, but not _that_ fancy!

Anonymous said...

Dear "Another feminist",

Uh, yeah, I think everybody knows the salient stereotype of East German swimmers. It's just that some of us can see that there was nothing sexist in the comment.

Okay, I'll spell it out for you. There is no evidence whatsoever that West Coast Feminist is a woman. It is therefore in no way sexist to intimate that West Coast Feminist is "not really a woman".

(I suspect that some commenters are putting on funny little character masks and delivering lines. There's no way a real philosopher could be as much of an elitist as the W.C.F. character, and I doubt there are many who are as dumb as the "Another Fem." character. There's nothing terrible about doing that, but it's a little jejune.)

Anonymous said...

Aside from the 'west coast' part, I think WCF is actually my colleague. People that elitist and petty really do exist in philosophy, sadly.

Case in point: my department recently moved buildings, and our WCF wannabe apparently coveted the office with the corner view. She was good enough not to ask for it for herself, but she actually presented a sustained argument at a department meeting (rehearsed before the mirror many times, I'm sure) to the effect that the offices should be accorded based on merit, starting with the corner office and moving down through the ranks as one got farther away.

Oh, and she argued that, due to her innovative work in philosophy and a different department in which she's cross-listed, she ought to have the number two spot. The number one spot was to be given, in her model of the New Berlin, to the department chair, who is a 'big name' (and also, I noted, due to retire in the near future).

When the rest of us failed to fall in with her little plan, she was horrified and resentful.

That's one story out of many about her, and I've been involved with many other departments that had one or more characters of a greater-or-equal amount of evil in their souls.

Mr. Zero said...

All right. I suspect that there's not too much more of interest to say in the way of speculating about Westcoast Feminist's possible identity and many vices.

Equal treatment for equal stupidity said...

Mr. Zero,

When Rodolfo showed up and acted like an ass, you had a blast with people taking him on. You even gave him several long and rhetorical spankings yourself. You called him all sorts of names.

Now, Westcoast Feminist is pulling the same crap or worse, as the rest of us seem to agree (aside from 'Another Feminist', if that's for real). But not only are you saying nothing against her, but you're actually calling off the hounds.

Why the obvious double standard?

Mr. Zero said...

It's not that I think WCF's comments are the least bit worthwhile, or anything. He/she is clearly an asshole. For instance, you'd have to be a real asshole to think that using the wrong fork is evidence of an inability to boost the departmental publication record or get new library acquisitions or something, and you'd have to be a real dumbass to think that a person couldn't be taught about the forks in less than an afternoon.

But when Rodolfo had the floor nobody said, I think I know who you are, Rodolfo, and you're a real asshole/here's a story about what an asshole you are, which has happened a couple of times to WCF.

What I meant was, fire away at WCF, not at the person you know in real life whom you suspect is posting as WCF.

Anonymous said...

@Zero:

Anon 9:12 here. For the record, I don't think that WCFem is my colleague (since her biographical details wouldn't have her ending up at my school). All I was saying was that one of my colleagues was _similar_ to WCFem. Hence the caveat in my first sentence.

Sorry for the confusion.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi 9:12,

I see what happened. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Anonymous said...

I won't speculate on WCF's identity or vices. But it seems to me she or he *was* subject to a sexist attack, and was clearly hurt by it.

I will also note that WCF's comment about " this testosterone-engorged contest of measuring johnsons" was a bit offensive to me, as I -- a female -- was one of the people criticizing WCF's draconian table manners criterion. Elizabeth Harman likewise criticized the same point, and might also resent the implication that she'd be engaged in such a measuring contest.

Anyway, as there's plenty of sexism floating around, I think Mr. Zero was right to try and shut it down. Smokers (WCF included) might want to be a bit more cautious with their words.

Anonymous said...

WCF:

"But you can't make a fair judgment without knowing the context. And the context is this: associate professors are colleagues, potential department chairs, potential deans, and potential presidents. In all those capacities, they (we) all have the responsibility of looking out for the group. That means bringing in the grants, boosting the departmental publication record, and -- yes, it may seem petty, but it's what makes the world go round -- hobnobbing with deans, donors, and what have you to get new lines, scholarships, library acquisitions, etc. sent our way."

Saul Kripke. David Lewis. (I will let you work out on your own the manner in which I just showed that you didn't really think this through very well.)

"I'm not going to bother with this testosterone-engorged contest of measuring johnsons."

Elizabeth Harman (also really easy if you have been following the thread)

"I'm not going to play the sexism card here, but it might be worth thinking about that nobody raced to call Rodolfo a 'classist' or to make a reference to body image in his case. I, however, am compared to a non-female "East German swimmer on 'roids" (in other words, not a woman at all, for those who remember the controversy)."

To see that the first sentence of this quote is incorrect, look at the sentence right below it, or the quote about testosterone and Johnsons from above. I actually don't object to you calling out whoever made the stupid East German swimmer remark for sexism, because it seems to me that despite some silly arguments to the contrary, it probably was a sexist remark. But I do object to the silly dishonest involved in denying you were doing that immediately before doing it.

"There's no need for this hostility."

Yes, there is. You revealed something about yourself which makes it very likely that you are a very bad human being. You are a person who in part determines the life prospects of other human beings on the basis of considerations like table manners. You then justify your behavior with the following tautology 'A philosophy job is a job' as though someone reading your comment is too stupid to know this. Really what you seemed to want to say was that other employers make decisions on this basis, so it is acceptable for us to do so as well. To see why this line of reasoning is expressive a serious vice, think about other contexts in which this excuse is used.

By the way, the argument that the East German Swimmer comment couldn't be sexist because WCF hadn't self-identified as a woman is a silly argument. Sexists will tend to assume that self-identified feminists are women because sexists tend to think of feminism as whining by women. The fact that WCF never said 'I am a woman' does not prevent people from assuming so, and does not make it illegitimate for WCF to assume that other people are assuming so. The East German swimmer remark makes more sense if you assume that it was made by someone assuming that WCF was a woman. It is not the only potential interpretation, but it is the most natural one.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not going to bother with this testosterone-engorged contest of measuring johnsons."

Funny that you assume we're all males.

I guess classism isn't your only bit of prejudice.

Anonymous said...

Has everyone just passed over December 1, 2011 12:39 PMs comment that her/his institution received over 700 applications?!?

This is insane!

Anonymous said...

Westcoast feminist,

I was the anon commentator at 1:29 yesterday lampooning you.

You will see quite clearly that I did not claim you were a woman (I used "his/her") as you did not claim as much yourself.

But, I also see that your feelings are bruised and you're thus in the mood to play the victim card. It's not fun having others in your field look down on you is it? Perhaps there is a lesson somewhere in that...

And yes, you are not "hip," you are an atrocious human being. These two are not contraries, so stop flattering yourself by treating them as such.

P.S. "Another feminist," thank you for presuming what my claim was in "reference" to. Alas, you are wrong. I was referring to the East German swimmers, both male and female, who broke numerous world records in the late 1980's due to their extensive doping program.

P.P.S. You do your feminist cause no justice by immediately screaming "sexist!!!" over every perceived slight. If you don't believe me, read the story of the little boy (or girl!) that cried wolf...and then fuck off.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the East German steroids remark as sexist. Well, steroids came in because we already had a gold medalist in the "worst human being" race (Rodolfo). The point of that humorous post was that WCF suddenly appeared, out of nowhere, really, to also compete for the title. One had to be on steroids to catch up like that. That's how understood the post. Also, male and female swimmers from Eastern Germany took steroids to compete. (Btw, I'm a female philosopher, not on roids currently, so testosterone engorged commenting is not my cup of tea.)

Anonymous said...

On the wiki:

(1) The wiki is obviously imperfect. For one, some of the info on it is false. For another, the info is incomplete.

(2) I understand that departments want to limit the amount of information about their process. But the incentive to conceal seems strongest late in the process. I doubt departments want to hide the fact that they have contacted candidates for first-round interviews. But I do see why departments want to hide the fact that they have issued invitations for on-campus visits, or have made job offers.

(3) So, why not have a wiki that includes only credible information provided by the departments? It seems like most departments should be willing to report when they have made first-round interview invitations, at the very least.

(4) True or false: From any given department's perspective, a world in which every department offers full disclosure on their entire process is preferable to a world in which every department tries to hide their process, and incomplete and sometimes erroneous information is posted to a wiki that anyone can edit.

(5) If you answered "true" in (4), then perhaps it's possible to create a situation in which every department agrees to publicly report the timing of the stages of their process. I for one think that this would be beneficial for everybody--candidates as well as departments.

Anonymous said...

That 700+ applications job must be either Columbia or NYU.

Anonymous said...

WCF:

Anon at 1:29 used "his/her" in deference to the fact that you did not specify your gender.

This is a standard (albeit inelegant) practice which you apparently take to imply that you're "a non-female" and "not a woman at all."

Well you never said you were, now did you?

Moreover, I did not take the reference to the East German swimmer as gendered in any way. If you choose to, that is your CHOICE; and thus you are also (as Sartre points out) choosing the emotion that follows from that choice.

I figure you're choosing to do this as, having made a royal ass of yourself, it is convenient for you take offense at all the "sexist" meanies on the Smoker.

I also figure that you and "Another feminist" are one and the same, but let's not have another sock-puppet expose.

Anonymous said...

City College, CUNY has an open search. 700+ sounds about right.

Dennis Whitcomb said...

WCF lets us know, by his/her own example, that some people in the profession reject job candidates for classist reasons. This is a bad thing.

But WCF seems to think it isn't such a bad thing. Well, if it isn't such a bad thing, WCF, why not out yourself? Presumably you think what you are doing is defensible, right? So why not tell us who you are? That way we would at least be able to avoid you at the smoker.

Anonymous said...

I truly, seriously cannot believe this thread. It's like a car wreck I cannot stop looking at. (Oh no! Someone wanna call me out on that?)

Westcoast Feminist said...

I'm sorry, but this is getting outrageous. These comments crossed the line of decorum before. They are well past that line now. It's time to put it in reverse.

If you want to blow your interviews, fine. I've already said what does and doesn't impress me. If you don't care because you think I'm in the minority, then fine. Make your own decisions.

Will every new hire a department makes have to "meet and greet" and look the part? No. According to Hylas, only one in ten must be. Great. Given the option between someone who has the ability to rise through the ranks and someone who doesn't, which do you think a smart department should choose? Just think, for a minute. Nobody's going to know how cool you are for giving the answer they want you to give. You're here anonymously. Just think.

I'm not going to 'out' myself. That isn't because I think anything I've said here is wrong or offensive. If you look at the tone I've used throughout, it should be pretty plain that I offered helpful advice with the best intentions. No, my reason for not coming out of the pseudonymous closet is that I've been battered enough behind my nom de plume that I don't care to see how much worse some of you will make it face to face. I'm speaking only to some of you, but you know who you are. Your behavior is inappropriate even for a supposedly 'fun' medium like this one.

Yes, I am (still) a woman and the discussions here have made me uncomfortable. I'm not playing the sexism card - I'm really, really trying - but it might interest you to know that the harrassment code with which I am most familiar says that one crosses the line when a "comment is made by a person who knows or ought reasonable to have known that the conduct or comment is unwelcome or unwanted" to the woman addressed.

Leaving aside the steriod comment, I cannot imagine that anyone would think that the insults I have been subjected to here are welcome or wanted. And it is also difficult to imagine that some of you would not know what you are doing by making them.

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions from that. Unless the discussion shapes right up right now, I have no wish to continue this conversation. I'll let you draw your own conclusions from that also.

Anonymous said...

You think this thread is bad, 4:21? Just wait for the thread on the Zach Ernst piece.

Anonymous said...

Can I just say this is the 200th comment in the thread?

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 220   Newer› Newest»